Hip Hop Roots & Culture

Hip Hop Roots and how it arrived in the UK.
“Hip hop started out in the park. In times of great depression, poverty and oppression, it was a way for Black and Latino Americans to spread unity and positivity throughout New York. Little did they know it would travel the globe and break down barriers of race and ethnicity throughout the world. Although it has gained somewhat of a bad reputation for vulgarity and sometimes violent lyrics, it has become the voice of the voiceless for so many people.” (Will/JD).

Hip hop came from the Bronx..different cultures expressing different things through art, music, and break dancing…What happened during the 1970s is there were different elements pooled together by Afrika Bambaata as a term called ‘hip hop’….. (Sire the Graff Man).

When I saw hip hop being created I saw it as a ‘borrowing music’ taking from all genres… If you was lucky enough to know someone in America, in New York, Lower East Side, the Bronx, they could send you cassette tapes of Grand Master Flash cutting it up in the park…we had first hand knowledge to what was going by being sent mix tapes. This was all across the UK it wasn’t just a London thing. The minute it branched from New York it was there in the back gardens of the UK (Skinnyman).

The Fusion of Jamaican, American, and UK Culture.
There was basically hip hop culture from the East Coast of America influencing things people like Eric B, Ultramagnetic MCs, Public Enemy. We would watch these artists and try and mirror what they were doing. At the same time there was a big influence from Jamaican culture. There was a blur between the sound system reggae stuff and hip hop because this is where we started to play our music for the first time. Even when we started producing music we would produce it with a reggae influence because that is how people would set up their sound system…

To get on the mic on a sound system you needed to be able to chat which is MC’ing in a Jamaican way over reggae music. Nobody would be allowed to get on the mic and rap American sounding bars that just wouldn’t happen. With the Derby MCs a lot of them were rapping and taking a lot of reference from the American records but they would put their own slang in there like Patwa and then add in local slang words. That’s what gave the UK its own different sound. (Baby J).

The Hip Hop Elements.
How did the elements work together back in the day?
“You could not go to a night out and not see someone graffing (graffiti) even if they were tagging, you could not go and not see a DJ, or a bit of lino for the breakers (break dancers)…and knowledge about what you actually do and why you do it you would get that from your collective or crew.”

“Through all the different elements of the culture what’s most important is it’s expressive. So if you look at the art, art is expression… dancing is expressive, so in hip hop we’re expressing ourselves through dance, lyrically through poetry, through manifestation of word and sound… lyrical content. So through all the elements of Hip Hop is a root core of expression…

Alot of people look at the four elements as break dancing, graffiti, rapphearting, dj’ing…but what was explained to me as the four elements was the foundation of the culture which was love peace, unity, and having fun. I thought ‘love is what the world needs, peace – I come in peace, unity – we need to unify, and what’s most important is fun – the world can be a depressing place so we can’t forget to have a bit of light hearted cheer and be happy’. So ‘love, peace, unity and having fun’: it was everything I wanted to hear, it was everything I wanted to be a part of.” (Skinnyman).